Writer and editor

Small Talk

20 Aug 2012 by Paz, Comments Off on Small Talk

Tailormade trivia for every awkward moment.

Ever been stranded in a social situation with nothing to say and nowhere to go? ‘Just being yourself’ is all very well but what if you’re not very interesting?

Help is at hand. Arranged according to scenario – how to talk to a hairdresser; what to say at a wedding – Small Talk is teeming with tailormade trivial that will  amuse, beguile and charm.

Stuck tight at a buck’s night? Study Small Talk and you have three topics:
(1) interesting celebrity sex fetishes,
(2) possible closet dwellers,
(3) the most highly sexed people in history.

Forced to go to a funeral? Light the mood with tales of amusing deaths and misplaced body parts, or hilarious stories of wakes gone wrong.  Whether you need to dazzle at a dinner party or fascinate at the footy, bond at a book club or gel in gaol, Small Talk will show the way.

 

Extract

‘Hell’, said Sartre, ‘is other people’.

He was full of cheery stuff like this. ‘Man is anguish’ was another one, and next time you’re feeling down, remember that ‘Life begins on the other side of despair’.

Sartre, however, was wrong. This is a tough thing to say about any man who stylistically got things so right (grab a black skivvy, a beret and a goatee and any argument’s nearly won) but let’s charge ahead anyway. Push on. Be brave.

Hell, in fact, is talking to other people – or at least talking to other people when you have absolutely nothing to say. Hell is that thuddingly awkward silence that comes after ‘How are you?’ and ‘I’m well’. The agonising minute it takes to search your brain for something sparkling and realise that the cupboard is bare.

It’s all very well to ‘just be yourself’, but what if you’re not very interesting? If community spirit – or at least a sense of basic decency – prevents you being yourself, who precisely should you be? This is the $22.95 question, its answers many and deep.

We live in an era of specialisation. Bucks night banter won’t work at a wedding; theatre chat falls flat at the footy. Master X character type, and you still have to deal with Y.

Solution One is to do as Sartre did. Make long silences look like deep silences. Grow a goatee and buy a beret. Scowl a lot. Sigh meaningfully. Look enigmatic. Brood.

When you must speak, speak incomprehensibly. Use words like ‘monad’ and ‘apodeictic’ and ‘obversion’. ‘Anomie’ is always a good one, and see if you can work in ‘grue’. Manage all this and you will become the world weary outsider – one who drained the cup of life in their teens, and has been too disillusioned for a refill since.

Of course, you will also become a wanker. The advantage of the existential despair technique is that having nothing to say becomes a virtue – the sign of a soul above small talk, a mind on a higher plane. The disadvantage is that people think you’re a pratt.

Solution Two is to buy this book. Steal it if you have to. Then read it, and re-read it – underlining bits, memorising passages, and rehearsing different parts with friends. Make Small Talk your constant companion – marry it, if you have to, and go about starting a family – for in it your salvation lies. Chitchat for every occasion is but a page away. Turn it. Turn it now.

 

Where to buy

Australia and NZ: Booktopia
UK:  Amazon
USA: Amazon

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